Tuesday, December 14, 2010

“My IQ is just fine, thank you very much.”…….BSC # 101: Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout

Memory Reaction

I didn’t read this as a kid, but I wish I did. I would have loved finding inconsistencies.

Revisited Reaction

So, this book’s all about Claudia being an idiot. It’s October, close to the beginning of the school year, but Claud’s already behind in all her subjects. She’s frustrated because she truly doesn’t understand a lot of things she’s learning. Her parents get her a tutor and she promises to work really hard, but she still struggles. So, the school decides she should go back to seventh grade. The hope is that if she has time to re-learn everything from last year, she may actually be able to remember it and then succeed in eighth grade next year.

Claudia’s understandably upset about this. But she does notice that when she’s back in seventh-grade classes, she does understand what she’s learning. She also notices that a lot of the seventh-graders look up to her, watch her in the hallways, imitate her clothes, etc. I guess because they think she’s cool for being a year older? Regardless, she starts to feel a little better about the situation. She’s also taking an art class at the community college, taught be a semi-famous artist. She had to apply to get in, and is the youngest student, so it’s a bit of an ego boost for her.

Then she finds out that she isn’t allowed to go to the school’s Halloween dace – it’s for eighth grader only. She’s depressed about it for a while, and doesn’t even bother to tell her family that her work’s in an art show. Then, she finds out she won first prize in the show. She’s still upset about the school thing, however, she talks to the art teacher, who tells her she had to repeat two grades when she was in school. So, Claudia starts to feel better, and she tells her family/friends about the art show.

Meanwhile, Jackie Rodowsky gets out of the hospital after his accident in the previous book. We get a lesson in charity, cause all the kids decide to give half their Halloween candy to kids in the hospital, and they throw a party for them. Then probably forget all about them.


We start with an outfit, but we only get to hear part of the description (Stacey interrupts it). This is unfortunate, cause it sounds like it would have been a doozy – “Tie-dye leggings, black overall shorts, red high-tops and…” Any guesses? I’m thinking something plaid, stripped, or some other pattern that looks horrible with tie-dyed.

Claudia complains that no one told her she was going to need to know what she learned last year to learn new material. My question is, how did she not know that? Especially in math, where everything is built on basic skills you have learned in the past?

I can’t totally blame Claudia for not remembering though. I mean, she hasn’t been in seventh-grade for about 95 books. That’s gotta be about ten-years, right?

The BSC keeps talking about how school’s so much different “this year” and that the teachers are expecting more from them, but also letting them be more independent. It wouldn’t bother me, except they have been in eighth grade forever. So, it rings a bit false to hear about things being different, when they weren’t different the other twelve times that started eighth grade.

The BSC organizes a “hospital buddies” thing to be nice to kids stuck in the hospital. But I feel like they already did this at one point. Maybe the one where Danielle was first introduced? If so, does that mean that they just stopped their previous charity work?

At Claud’s first art class, she wears “a black sweatshirt with the neck cut out of it, black jeans…and [her] purple high-tops with orange laces.” It’s the orange shoelaces that kill the outfit for me.

We have no reached a point where only one sitter’s required at the Pikes. Apparently the triplets are mature enough to be a “second sitter.”

So, Claudia even tells us the outfit Stacey was wearing in her dream. She wore “a short plaid kilt, a white baby-T, black tights, and black, chunky-heeled shoes.” That actually sounds okay, and definitely in style for when the book first came out.

Claud’s tutor is actually a friend of Janine, but apparently she’s not just a “brainy nerd” because she knows how to dress.

I have a hard time believing that the 7th graders would be so into following Claudia around. Even if they think she’s “cool,” I think there would still be some kind of stigma about her being left back.

Claudia says Rosa, her tutor, taught her the trick of skipping the questions she didn’t know and coming back to them at the end. But, Janine taught her this back when she was accused of cheating. I guess it’s just another thing Claudia forgot.

Claudia’s teacher has the kids switch papers to grade each others’ quizzes. Then he records the grades in his gradebook, based on what the students show him walking out of class. But wouldn’t he also want to keep the quizzes (to make sure the kids were honest when grading)?

Okay, so the whole eighth-grade dance thing annoys me. Has there ever been a dance that Mal and Jessi weren’t also able to attend? And didn’t the girls go to dances in the first few books when they were in seventh grade? There was never any mention of the lower grades having an “afternoon party” complete with bobbing for apples and other “kid” games. It was a dance for the whole school.

I’m not sure why Claudia keeps saying she’s so mature. Her wardrobe? Because dressing cool doesn’t make a person mature. And neither does dressing like a crazy person. But I can’t really think of anything that makes her especially mature, and I don’t think the year between 12 and 13 makes a huge difference in terms of maturity.

I guess this book came out when the movie Pocahontas did, cause that’s what Margo and Claire are fighting about dressing up as for Halloween.

Cokie Mason dresses up as a Barbie on Halloween. This sounds like she’s asking to be mocked. When I was in middle school Barbie was considered very babyish not cool or pretty.

Claudia says that Mal and Jessi collected a few treats while the three of them took a bunch of kids trick-or-treating. Which sounds realistic for eleven-year-olds, but completely inconsistent with what we’ve seen Mal and Jessi do in all the past Halloween books.

Claudia says Halloween’s a holiday for “kids,” then immediately follows by saying, “Who over the age of ten gets excited about it?” Cause once you pass ten you’re an adult?

To go to her art show, Claudia wears, “a long black jumper with red embroidery around the neckline…over a white turtleneck…[and] a pair of red dangly earrings.” I kind of think it sounds like something Mallory would wear, which makes sense, since Claudia said it was the first time she didn’t care how she looked.

Is Claudia really SO talented as an artist, that her teacher can’t stop praising her work, and that an adult in the class tells Claudia she’s been trying to reach her level for 15 years? Can’t they just make her a good artist, without having her be some kind of prodigy?

One thing I like about the Halloween books is hearing the costumes everyone wears. Claudia picks a scarecrow (for the kid’s party, she would have gone to the dance as a “punk”). Meanwhile, Stacey goes as a flapper, Mary Anne and Kristy go as Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and Abby goes as a soccer player, which is boring since she already is a soccer player. Mallory goes as Emily Dickinson, and Jessi goes as the Sugar Plum Fairy, which is almost as boring as Abby’s, but not quite.


coulrophobic agnostic said...

Claudia is hugely immature. She doesn't see the "point" of schoolwork or making an effort because her grades will never be as good as her sister's. She has little discipline with her art as well, as we've seen - talent is only half the battle, and she refused to listen to that art teacher who tried to explain that to her. I will never get the "Claudia is so mature" thing. She's into boys and likes clothes. That's not maturity.

Also, the hospital thing bugged me because all the "buddies" were in for such minor procedures. Not a cancer kid in sight. An appendectomy, a tonsillectomy (of course it's a chubby kid so she's whining about not being able to eat, and Kristy goes all judgy on her ass), a broken leg - and these kids are being kept there long enough for this program? And none of their parents are sticking around? It doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Would sending a kid back a grade even happen in real life? Held back yes. But being promoted to 8th grade and then once you're in 8th grade being forced back to 7th?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think it's creepy that Mary Anne and Kristy go as Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf? I'm sensing a slightly lesbianic vibe there.

Unknown said...

i remember this book. Mainly the one where Cokie dresses up as Barbie for Halloween and Claudia going to that art thing.

lol with the Pochahauntas thing. Pochahauntas is one of my favorite Disney films growing up as a kid and one of the characters that I wanted to be for Halloween, right along with Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I should add that Pochahauntas is my mom's favorite movie and because of that I had most of my room decorated with Pochauntas stuff before it got switched to the Lion King.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I had the exact same reaction to Mary Anne and Kristy's costumes. They sound like such couple costumes!

Am I the only one who thought of Never Been Kissed with the whole Barbie costume?

Laura said...

I just wonder how Claudia doesn't get excited for Halloween - you get free CANDY just by going to people's doors and saying "trick or treat"!

featherearrings said...

lol I thought of Never Been Kissed too.

Anonymous said...

"We get a lesson in charity, cause all the kids decide to give half their Halloween candy to kids in the hospital, and they throw a party for them. Then probably forget all about them."

HAHA this made me laugh

SarahLynn said...

I LOVE your blog!!! I discovered it a couple months ago and wnet back through your archives to the beginning. Thanks for letting me relive some of my favorite childhood memories!!!

Nixxi6 said...

Am I the only one who thought Claudia was being SUPER whiny in this book? I know it sucks to get sent back a grade but freakin' A at least she has friends standing by her through it all (which she didn't seem to care much about), I know she stops being such a downer by the end of the book but by the time she pulls her head out of her ass I was so annoyed that it kind of spoiled it for me haha

Donna said...

Lesbians =/= creepy

Anonymous said...

@Donna : THANK YOU.

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